World Bulletin / News Desk
Security forces drove back 1,000 African migrants who tried to breach a border fence from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Saturday, officials said.
Hundreds of migrants managed to scrambled across in recent months, but this time the thick anti-climb fencing which was recently installed prevented the charging crowd.
The incident was one of the latest in a string of desperate attempts to breach the fence, one of Europe's two land borders with Africa.
"Anti-climbing mesh and the collaboration of the Moroccan forces with the (Spanish) civil guard managed to stop an attempt to cross by about a thousand migrants," the Spanish government delegation in Melilla said in a statement.
"None of the immigrants managed to reach the city," it added.
Moroccan forces saw off many of the migrants and those who managed to get past them to the fence failed to climb into Melilla partly due to the new type of mesh, it said.
Officials say the immigrant reception centre in Melilla is highly overcrowded. It was built to house 480 immigrants but it was holding about 2,000 even before the last wave of entrants, officials said last month.
In March about 500 people forced their way across the Melilla border, and around 2,000 have breached the 12-kilometre barriers so far this year, up from just over 1,000 for the whole of 2013.
Both Spain and Italy have attempted to persuade their northern European neighbours to bear a greater share of the increasing immigration burden, but talks on an EU-wide solution to the problem have made little progress.
Last October more than 360 people drowned within sight of Lampedusa, an Italian island off Tunisia that has long been a magnet for migrants, and in May a migrant boat sank in the sea between Libya and Southern Sicily, causing at least 14 deaths.
In February, the European Union asked Spain to explain why police had fired rubber bullets in warning when a group of African migrants tried to wade and swim to Ceuta. Fifteen drowned. Spain has said the migrants were not targeted by the shots.Last Mod: 16 Haziran 2014, 16:19